Visiting Professor, Kyoto, Lund, Oxford Brookes Universities
Honorary Visiting Professor, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in Europe
Flourishing Communities Before And After Disasters?
Volf, Croasman and McAnnally-Linz ask us to consider the essence of a ‘flourishing life’. For almost fifty years I have been preoccupied in teaching, research, writing and advocacy with the needs of people engulfed in disasters and how attitudes, policies and appropriate architecture can enable surviving communities to recover with resilience and even flourish.
However, during my entire career I do not recall the word ‘flourishing’ ever being used in relation to disaster risk or recovery management, and I have certainly never used it to describe recovery intentions. Normally, more utilitarian words are in use, such as ‘safety’, ‘restoration’, reconstructon’ or ‘resettlement’. Thus, the theme of this paper raises an important question - whether in the extreme and dire circumstances of a disaster people and communities can flourish with ‘life to the full’, as promised by Christ? (John’s Gospel 10 verse 10)
My research in relation to disaster response and assistance sent me down a very different route than anything I had previously experienced as an architect in practice or taught in architecture schools. This has been a radical journey discovering en-route the need to challenge, re-think and reverse some deeply entrenched approaches.
Examples may include:
If after a disaster. a community can rise from their trauma of loss and anguish and restore their shelters and settlements that they have assisted in creating, that are safer structures, that have generated much needed livelihoods , that offer greater comfort and dignity to their occupants and enhance their environment, then they will certainly have flourished.Download